The Closet Atheist‘s 31 favorite quotes from The God Delusion, and my first thoughts upon reading each them.
Part 2: 17 — 31
“Do people never open the book that they believe is the literal truth? Why don’t they notice these glaring contradictions?” p. 94
81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”42
“And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.”43
82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”44
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church
All of this is to say that, as a Catholic: While I do believe that the Bible is Truth, it is not the only source of Truth. Like a male and a female, Scripture and tradition make no sense on their own but, together, make more sense. And the “contradictions” in Scripture, like the fact that no one is perfect, don’t take away from the beauty and truth that results when two become one…
“It is an essential part of the scientific enterprise to admit ignorance, even to exult in ignorance as a challenge to future conquests.” p. 125
“One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.” p. 126
I’ll do these two at the same time.
On the one hand, Richard Dawkins, you say that, when it comes to the study of nature, it is “essential” to admit ignorance, even exult in it — take it as a challenge.
But then you lament that, when it comes to one’s study of God, a person could ever be satisfied with not understanding something.
It sounds like you’re essentially saying “Ignorance for me but not for thee.”
Which makes you sound like a hypocrite.
And why would I listen to a hypocrite?
“. . . Design certainly does not work as an explanation for life, because design is ultimately not cumulative and it therefore raises bigger questions than it answers – it takes us straight back along the . . . ultimate regress.” p. 141
To look through a telescope or a microscope in the hope of one day declaring “There is no God” is like trying to disprove the existence of a woman by studying her newborn baby.
On another note: The Catholic Church’s take on life and where life comes from.
“Some educated individuals may have abandoned religion, but all were brought up in a religious culture from which they had to make a conscious decision to depart. The old Northern Ireland joke, ‘Yes, but are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?’ is spiked with bitter truth.” p. 166
“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” p. 167, George Bernard Shaw
“A great deal of the opposition to the teaching of evolution has no connection with evolution itself, or with anything scientific, but is spurred on by moral outrage.” p. 211
“If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would ‘commit robbery, rape, and murder’, you reveal yourself as an immoral person, ‘and we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you.’” p. 227 (quoted partially from Michael Shermer)
“To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird. . .” p. 237
To quote Bob Dylan: “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”
“Why should a divine being, with creation and eternity on his mind, care a fig for petty human malefactions? We humans give ourselves such airs, even aggrandize from our poky little ‘sins’ to the level of cosmic significance!” p. 238
Why should a divine being care about humanity?
You just said why: because he’s got creation and eternity on his mind.
And if a cosmic being does care about us, is it not logical for us to care about our “sins” that offend him?
“It is, when you think about it, remarkable that a religion should adopt an instrument of torture and execution as its sacred symbol, often worn around the neck.” p. 251
“The idea that baptizing an unknowing, uncomprehending child can change him from one religion to another at a stroke seems absurd – but it is surely not more absurd than labeling a tiny child as belonging to any religion in the first place.” p. 315
What about labeling that same child an atheist? Is that not “absurd” as well?
And if a child, through the use of their reason and as a result of their own research, one day says “I believe there is a god,” will you see them as “absurd”? Because, if you will — if, in your eyes, everyone who is not a non-believer is a fool — I fail to see this decency that you claim to have as an atheist since, to you, everyone who is not an atheist is a lesser human being; absurd, as opposed to not absurd.
“The faithful are encouraged to profess belief, whether they are convinced by it or not. […]” p. 352-53
Having attended church every weekend of my life (when I wasn’t sick or otherwise not able to make it) I can say that not once have I ever been encouraged to just say I believe. So I don’t know where such a claim is coming from.
On a related note:
“…do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
~ Matthew 23:3
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…”
~ Matthew 7:21
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. p. 354 (Mark Twain)
I wouldn’t say I fear death, either.
It’s what might come after death that keeps me up at night.
“The atheist view is correspondingly life-affirming and life-enhancing, while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion, wishful thinking, or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something.” p. 361
Isn’t it wishful thinking to say that atheism will never be “tainted with self-delusion… or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something”?
After all: History is full of examples of people thinking “___ will never happen.”
One example being:
“Baby’s First Atheism” are the words that come to kind when I think of The God Delusion. Take of that what you will.
There is more I could say about Richard Dawkins’ words, but this post was just me expressing my first impression of his views.
For now, my final words on Richard Dawkins are these:
Atheism strikes me as, for lack of better words, a terribly boring view of life.
To me, renouncing all belief in anything supernatural is the equivalent of choosing to watch paint dry all day, every day, for the rest of my days.
If I were to live in a world with absolutely nothing associated with anything supernatural — i.e., Richard Dawkins’ dream world — I would be denying myself pieces of art like this: